I read with amusement of the whiny millennials suing the government over their possible harm caused by the byproducts of burning fossil fuels in power plants.

I should probably sue for physical and psychological harm caused by growing up in the atomic age. As a child, I had to do the famous, and at the time not funny, “duck and cover” at school. I grew up knowing what an air raid siren sounded like and what the various tones and intervals meant.

The Civil Defense symbol meant air raid shelter and possible safety. I should sue the U.S. government for developing the atomic bomb even though it is possible it is the reason I am alive. My father was in the Pacific heading for the invasion of mainland Japan. I wonder how much radioactive fallout from above ground nuclear tests in the 1940s and ’50s has affected me.

Fossil fuels have been burned in power plants for over a hundred years. Maybe there is correlation to global warming. But one thing is certain. A nuclear blast is going to be a much bigger problem. Try living with that idea for 68 years.

Bill Jeffers

Frederick

(41) comments

phydeaux994

This conversation today has been spellbinding people, all relevant to the issues of today. But maybe, maybe Climate Change/Global Warming is more likely to harm us than everything you seem to worry about put together. Maybe.

gabrielshorn2013

So in your opinion, what is the solution phy? The LTE writer conflates atomic energy with the hazards of "the bomb", which is clearly not the case. We need energy to power everything from flashlights to manufacturing plants, and everything in between. Global warming, as per the current science, is attributable to burning fossil fuels. Every energy source has positives and negatives.

woodyweaver

The better negative outcome associated with nuclear energy are things like Chernobyl and Fukushima. One can probably get quantifiable data on the harm to individuals. The problem with negative outcomes from fossil fuels is much harder to evaluate, since we don't have named events. Perhaps the 'black lung' deaths? The WHO estimate of 20K deaths per year per degree of average temperature increase? And we start dancing around whether it was hundreds or a few thousand that were hastened along due to Sr90 as reflected in teeth...

FCPS-Principal

Yes, everyone is lost in the weeds and no one notices the idiotic pairing of nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons.

jsklinelga

I am 69 and I remember the air raid sirens. Maybe some folks did not grow up near Fort Detrick. Gabe seems like an authority but one point has not been discussed. Nuclear waste. In 1980 I was offered a position in building an experimental facility in Richland, Washington.I declined. Bechtel was contracted to explore and develop methods for disposing of Nuclear waste. To my knowledge no answer has solved this huge huge problem. Also I remember 3 mile island. I was working near Chambersburg. It was as scary or scarier than the Cuban missile crisis. New problems are not the answer to old problems.

gabrielshorn2013

You are correct jsk, the waste is a big problem. It is currently stored on-site at the various nuclear facilities scattered around the country. There was an attempt to develop a safe storage site at Yucca Mountain, but the anti-nuclear demonstrators got that shut down because nobody wanted nuclear waste transited through their neighborhoods. Energy generation will always be a tough call, because they all have pros and cons. Fossil fuels have global warming, nuclear has waste, solar cell production is highly toxic, wind turbines kill birds, etc., etc.,etc.

public-redux

"wind turbines kill birds..." and cause cancer!

gabrielshorn2013

...as she says with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Never heard that one public, until I googled it. nice one! That's HUUUUUge! regarding the birds: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-many-birds-do-wind-turbines-really-kill-180948154/

DickD

Gabe, they put up 195 wind mills in Lewis County NY., about 20 years ago. You can stand under them and hear very little noise As far as birds, there might be a few killed, but I didn't see any under the wind mills. I will take those windividuals mills over a coal mine and a coal generation plant any day. They do not tear up the land and make it unusable for the future.

gabrielshorn2013

AgreedDick. I was pointing out the arguments that are thrown out against each technology. There is always some group that will object. A wind farm is being proposed offshore from Ocean City. As you can guess the bird issue is one of the issues being used against that project. Commercial fishermen are also claiming that it will interfere with fisheries.

DickD

Jim, I. was working in D.C. It was a Saturday morning and I was the only engineer working in Customer Service Engineering. We designed private line circuits, mostly for corporation and the government. Phones started ringing, not mine but all over the office. Being curious, I picked up phone and found that they needed some circuit design for telephone lines they were running into the reactor. For the next couple of hours I worked on them, until some of the government engineers made it into the office. The Bell of Pa installer was going into the reactor. I admired his guts and sacrifice. Since then I have often wondered how he did in later life, but I never knew his name. As far as air raid sirens, they were for air raid practice in the U.S. We had them during WWII, not since.

joelp77440

First off, nuclear reactors are not nuclear bombs. Second, nuclear is much safer at least in terms of new systems. Most of the PowerPlants that had issues (Japan) used 50+ year old technology. Much safer alternatives and practices exist. No more light water reactors! Here is a interesting fact. Roughly 571 deaths have been certified due to the reactor breach so far. Over 19,575 were actually killed in the tsunami that caused the reactor breach.

lewisantq

The first sentence, "whiny millennials", tells you everything you need to know about where this guy is coming from. Bob Lewis

DickD

Bill, like it or not, renewable energy is the future. We cannot allow more carbon and climate change to happen.

gabrielshorn2013

I would take nuclear over coal any day of the week. However, there is too much political resistance due to disinformation, as seen in this LTE.

threecents

I find it funny how we are so scared of a few beeps from a Geiger counter, but we tend to ignore the fact that coal and gas are wrecking our health and causing global warming. Nuclear has come a long way since Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

elmerchismo1

What's the connection between atomic fuel in a power plant and "an atomic blast"?

gabrielshorn2013

None. The LTE writer juxtaposed the two issues. A reactor will have a meltdown if it fails, as we saw with the Fukushima and Chernobyl incidents. There will not be an atomic blast like Hiroshima.

matthewboh

There's a difference in the design of the Fukushima and Chernobyl reactors as oppoesed to the Three Mile Island and all other US reactors. Basically, the US reactors have a fail-safe design, where the Japanese and Russian reactors have a fail / no-safe design.

gabrielshorn2013

Yep, understood. That's why I didn't state TMI. The former design would not be built in the US.

DickD

Gabe, if Bill has lived with this for 68 years, does that mean he is 68? I think that is what he meant. But if so, he was born in 1951. There were no air raid sirens in or after 1951. You would have to go back to WWII for them. So, Bill is either older than 68 or making up a story.

gabrielshorn2013

Agreed Dick. I am not sure about the air raid sirens, but the "duck and cover" program lasted from 1951 into the early 1960s, as a product of the cold war.

DickD

Wasn't duck and cover just in the schools? I don't recall any in the general public. And they did start after the Russians exploded their first atomic bomb, which was in 1951.

gabrielshorn2013

That is correct Dick. There were also Civil Defense drills in some areas. Now and then you mat still see CD signs on some buildings which were meant as public fallout shelters. However, we are talking about nuclear bombs here, and not nuclear reactors like TMI and newer designs.

FCPS-Principal

You can stop wondering. Since the tests were done in the Pacific Ocean, you weren't impacted to any measurable degree. However your children are feeling the impact of all the coal you burned right now.

gabrielshorn2013

Not true FAUX. The fallout was worldwide. If you were born after the tests you have detectable levels of Strontium 90 in your teeth and bones that came from those blasts. However, if you were born before the blasts you will not.

olefool

How about some verifiable proof of your assertions Gabe..... They just sound a little leaky to me.

gabrielshorn2013

Oh come on olefool, don't be lazy. Google can be your friend. Yotr assignment is to search on the terms "Strontium 90 teeth" and report back to us.

olefool

It has an after life of just 28 years...

gabrielshorn2013

Olefool says: "It has an after life of just 28 years..." Do you understand what a half life is olefool? It is not a linear relationship. A half life is the time it takes a radioactive substance to decay to half it's original level. So, the amount of Sr90 will de reduced by half in 28.8 years, then by half of that in another 28.8 years, then half of that in another 28.8 years, and so on. So if I started with 100 units, I would have 50 in 28.8 years, then 25 in 57.6 years, then 12.5 in 86.4 years, and so on. Those of us that were born in the late 50s still have some of that Sr90 from those original blasts in our bodies, and so do you.

public-redux

gabe, Could you explain that just a little? Why would the strontium be absorbed by people born in, say, 1965 but not by people who were born in, say, 1935? (Dates chosen to be before and after but not during the blasts; feel free to alter the dates if the ones I chose aren't consistent with my question.) Why isn't the residual strontium in the environment absorbed by everyone in the environment?

gabrielshorn2013

Hi public, the Sr90 is a product of nuclear fission. It is absorbed during tooth formation in our younger years. People born after the open air tests will have measurable levels of Sr90 in their teeth due to those open air tests. If you were born before that, say the 1930s, your teeth would have already formed, and Sr90 would not be absorbed. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_Tooth_Survey

public-redux

Thank you. Appreciate the explanation.

hayduke2

Does it not have a steady decay? Wouldn't those amounts be pretty near untraceable today?

gabrielshorn2013

Hay, Sr90 has a half life of 28.8 years. Therefore, 60 years later you will still have 1/4 of the Sr90 in your body as you would have had originally. Those baby teeth collected for the experiment mentioned above still have detectable Sr90 in them. All of us born after all of the aboveground atomic bomb testing have detectable Sr90 levels directly related to the aboveground testing, which may lead to cancer. Due to its similarity to Calcium, it is bioaccumulated as we live in our tissues, especially bones. That is why President Kennedy pushed the treaty to stop such aboveground testing. The science proving the correlation in the 1960s was strong enough to get the treaty passed quickly.

hayduke2

Agreed, but the original amounts detected in teeth ( at least what I could find ) were relatively low. Since we lose baby teeth,even though it mimics calcium, I can't find any studies that indicate it is having a verifible impact on health. I agree with your assessment but not sure it is the strongest argument.

hayduke2

Interesting article about rise in Sr90 near nuclear reactors - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004896970300439X

gabrielshorn2013

Hay, teeth were used in the original study because they only accumulate calcium (and therefore strontium) while growing. Once teeth stop growing they stop accumulating both Ca++ and Sr++. Since Sr90 is a synthetic radioisotope produced by nuclear fission, the only place the original Sr90 could have come from is the aboveground nuclear tests and subsequent fallout. It didn't exist before that. As I said above, the half life is 28.8 years, so the only way to get rid of it is time. Meanwhile, we will bioaccumulate it in our bones and teeth as we would with naturally occurring (and non harmful) Strontium. Sr90 is also a Beta-emitter, which is higher in energy, and has more health effects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5278504/

hayduke2

Thanks Gabe- that I understand. However, the article I referenced points out a rise years after the above ground testing ban and applied to folks living near nuclear reactors. Found it interesting.

glenkrc

FWIW, the NRC addressed this issue: https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML0500/ML050060411.pdf

gabrielshorn2013

Hay, here is an article stating that cancer deaths due to fallout from the aboveground nuclear testing may be higher than originally thought. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.2190/HS.41.1.j

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